Improving water use for dry season agriculture by marginal and tenant farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plains
ACIAR Project number LWR/2012/079
The Eastern Gangetic Plains, which include the Nepal Tarai, Bihar and West Bengal regions, is one of the most densely populated, poverty stricken belts in South Asia. Behind this persisting poverty are deeply entrenched social structures of class and caste, with a high incidence of inequitable landlord-tenant relations. This is combined with poor access to irrigation water in the dry season, limited irrigation capacity and low agricultural innovation. Earlier research in the Indo-Gangetic basin established the interactions between poverty and access to water. At present technical, social and economic constraints have limited the effective use of groundwater and ponds for irrigation, and large areas of land remain fallow during the dry months. Access to year round water for irrigation would significantly promote the productivity of agriculture, improving incomes and food security. Marginal and tenant farmers, youth and women are the target set of farmers who could benefit from a new approach to irrigation provision.